Here’s a question from Amber of New York City, mom to 1-year old, Chloe:
“My baby loves to drop things from her high chair, whether it’s food, her bottle, or her spoon, and squeals with laughter when I fetch things again and again. It’s fun yet exasperating. How can I teach her to stop?”
If your baby is under a year old, you really can’t teach her to stop. In fact, throwing food helps your baby learn cause and effect–if she throws food from her high chair, it falls down and you’ll pick it up. Instead of getting exasperated, play along for another round or two. When you’ve had enough, say something like: “That was fun, but Mommy isn’t going to play anymore,” then stop picking up the food.
By the time your baby is a toddler, though, she’s old enough–and developmentally capable of understanding–that flinging food isn’t okay. Toddlers may still do it when they’re bored or want attention, or if they don’t like what’s being serving. To end the antics, state a rule positively, such as: “Food is for eating and it belongs on your plate.” Stay calm. “A huge reaction from you will only reinforce the bad behavior,” says Marcy Guddemi, Ph.D., executive director of the Gesell Institute of Human Development in New Haven, CT. If your toddler keeps it up, end the meal.
High chair shopping tip: Look for a fixed center crotch post, which prevents your baby from slipping under the tray and getting his head caught between the tray and the chair (it happens!). Check the leg openings, too. They shouldn’t be large enough for a child to fit both legs in one. And inspect the safety belt. Some high chairs have three-point harnesses, but a five-point harness (shoulder straps that attach to the waist belt) is better.